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Privacy of Your Health Records

The information you give to your health care provider is confidential. There are laws that cover what information can be collected, how it must be stored and when it can be shared.

Protecting patients' privacy is important for a number of reasons. Patients need to be comfortable enough to share all the information their health care provider needs to treat them. Knowing that their information will be kept private can make sharing sensitive information easier. At the same time, health care providers need to be able to share information if needed to treat a patient or to monitor and improve our health care system.

In Saskatchewan, The Health Information Protection Act (HIPA) protects all of your personal health information whether it it relates to your physical or mental health. Personal health information in any form, including paper records, x-rays and electronic records, is protected.

Trustees

Under HIPA individuals and organizations that collect, store or share personal health information are called trustees. This is to reflect the fact that they hold your personal health information in trust and must manage it in ways that are in your best interest and that respect your right to privacy.

Provincial government departments, health care agencies, physicians, nurses, pharmacists, dentists and other health care providers as well as their governing associations are all considered trustees.

Your personal health information can only be shared by a trustee with your consent unless one of the exceptions under the Act apply. Your consent must be given freely. You have a right to any information you would reasonably need to make the decision. Consent can be given for a limited period of time only. Consent does not need to be in writing. It can be given by your words or signature or implied from the situation. Your consent must relate to the specific use of your information requested.

HIPA does not apply to statistical information or non-identifying information that cannot reasonably be expected to identify the individual.

There are a number of situations where your information can be disclosed without your consent. Your information can be disclosed as needed for you to receive the treatment or services you have requested. Exceptions to the requirement for consent include when...

  • the trustee reasonably believes it will minimize a danger to the health or safety of any person
  • it is necessary for monitoring, preventing or revealing fraudulent, abusive or dangerous use of publicly funded health services
  • it is needed by a quality of care committee or for a court case, or hearing before a health professional body
  • it is disclosed in the process of collecting a payment from an agency for your health services
  • it is disclosed to a government program that monitors drug use

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PLEA gratefully acknowledges our primary core funder the Law Foundation of Saskatchewan for their continuing and generous support of our organization.